Educational bias: Memorise the Quran for twenty extra marks

Published: February 8, 2012
The policy has shattered the dreams of an aspiring medical student. PHOTO: FILE

The policy has shattered the dreams of an aspiring medical student. PHOTO: FILE


Haroon Arif, a student from DG Khan in Punjab, could not get high enough marks to get into medical school. This is a standard situation for many young people in the country. What’s different here is that Haroon, who missed the grade by less than 0.1%, would have earned 20 extra marks if he was Hafiz-e-Quran. He tried to claim his knowledge of the Bible was equivalent, but this made no impact.

“I deserved it and yet just because I am Christian, I have been put at a disadvantage,” Haroon says.

He found out about the discrimination on viewing the results at his test centre last month. “There was a separate column for Hafiz-e-Quran, and I found out that those who had memorised the holy book got 20 extra marks,” he adds.

Haroon got A grades in both matriculation and intermediate exams, but was an agonising 0.0255% behind the line for medical school in his final aggregate. This miniscule figure changed the course of his life.

“I know of students who did not perform well in the test and had lower marks in their matriculation and intermediate exams, but they got in, just because of these twenty marks,” he complains.

Haroon tried to show the university his three certificates in Bible education, but the authorities said they had no policy to accept these. Since Haroon’s parents are poor, his only hope was a government-run medical university, where fees are 10% of what private universities charge.

His father is a health worker and his mother a nurse. “I have seen my parents in this profession but only as support staff. Is that all Christians are destined to do?” he asks.

Haroon refused to give up. “My father could not afford a lawyer so I decided to approach a human rights organisation, who advised me to go to the courts for help.”

In his petition, Haroon maintained that under Article 25 his rights have been violated, as no person should be denied the same protection which is enjoyed by other citizens of Pakistan. Along with his documents, he submitted two letters, one from the Church of Pakistan and the other from the Bishop of Islamabad, clearly stating that Haroon’s religious education is at par with any Islamic education.

“Despite all relevant documents from competent authorities, the courts did not acknowledge this as a human rights issue,” says Peter Jacob, head of the organisation Haroon approached. “They are passing the matter on to the next authority, and we have been unable to get any positive response from anywhere,” Peter says, adding that there is a policy vacuum as the government never addresses educational bias.

The University of Health Sciences, which conducts the medical tests, seems to think it is not its domain to make policy.

“This is a sensitive religious issue, and we cannot change policy on our own. The same happens in engineering universities also, and it has been in place since the time of Zia-ul-Haq,” says Mohammad Atif, the head of public affairs at the university, adding that around 50 students were given 20 extra marks this year since they were Hafiz-e-Quran.

“We realise this is against human rights and have debated a lot on this policy, since minorities are being marginalised – but we follow government orders,” he adds.

While the university is at least debating the discriminatory nature of this policy, Punjab’s education minister showed little concern when contacted. “We cannot change the system because of a nominal amount of people,” said Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman.

Despite everything, Haroon remains hopeful. “I am as much a Pakistani as any Muslim, we are all equal citizens and the government will realise this,” he says.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (117)

  • talha
    Feb 8, 2012 - 11:36AM

    God Speed!!


  • Sarah
    Feb 8, 2012 - 11:46AM

    Wish you best of luck Haroon.


  • Uzair J
    Feb 8, 2012 - 11:48AM

    @ Author: You showed a very poor approach towards understanding why extra 20 marks are given to a person who has memorized the Quran. It would have been better had you supported the cause of minorities to have a special quota. Being a Muslim yourself (apparently), dont you know how mammoth a task it is to memorize the Holy Book?? This was to reward the tast one undertook in memorizing the Holy Book nothing else.


  • Patriotic
    Feb 8, 2012 - 11:57AM

    stop this Quran bias. Religion and education should not go hand in hand. SECULARISM is needed so badly, it almost feels like water for a thirsty man in a desert. We really need to control these mullahs and molvis and prevent minorities from being denied their rights.


  • American
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:04PM

    And they ask why people in the west resent the religion of peace.


  • Mythical reality
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:08PM

    “We cannot change the system because of a nominal amount of people,” said Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman.”

    Expecting any good, then, if the minorities are being prosecuted throughout the country since they make a ‘nominal amount’?


  • Akthar
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:09PM

    Sad, Really Sad.


  • Shahzad Alam
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:15PM

    Mr. Taha,

    Power comes with responsibility and it is true for a writer as well. It was far better for him to repeat intermediate examination if he is confident enough instead of going into this path. The same policy is not valid even for Muslims who are not Hafiz but have read Quran thoroughly along with Tafseer etc.

    Apparently, his choice to adopt Human Right Organization will lead him to International University with full funding which is a cheap way of many Cheap Pakistanis beyond their interest in religion.

    This guy is just using religion a vehicle to show his innocence. Not a healthy sign.



  • Patriotic
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:30PM

    @UzairJ: So you are saying that let’s just throw the Christians, Agnostics, Hindus and others to the gallows, fail them in exams and just give all the resources to the Muslims


  • Hassan
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:33PM

    Pakistan is a muslim state, and created in the name of islam. It is here to encourage people towards islam. Extra 20 marks are for encouragement. We are not here to encourage people towards other un islamic faiths.


  • Feb 8, 2012 - 12:34PM

    Clearly this is wrong. If they are giving marks for memorizing Quran then other religious scriptures should be treated the same way.

    Usually various incentives are associated with memorizing Quran like it will intercede on behalf of the one who memorized it on the Day of Judgment, that his/ her parents will get to wear gold crown and that he/ she will intercede for 10 people etc. There is no intercession on the Day of Judgement according to Quran so we should be clear on that all the above are not going to take place.


  • Sincere
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:36PM

    Atleast 5 extra marks should be given to anyone who memorises 1 “Para” of Quran and this will make many young students to remember something of Quran which will be beneficial in this world and hereafter.

    It’s not much to ask in a country created for Islam


  • Karachi
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:37PM

    Best of luck Haroon. Things will change definitely when some one will raise the issue.


  • Ihsan ur Rehman
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:46PM

    Dear Writer!

    I totally agree with Mr Uzair who pointed out the truth.

    As far Mr Haroon is concerned there are many other Muslim students as well who miss out the admission on the same criteria, one of my colleague missed the admission to UET just 0.015% but being a christian the human right activist will highlight the one case and put under carpet the others. My sympathies are Mr Haroon and he must enjoy the minority rights and Govt must made some sort of quota for admission of such students but there is no educational bias or discrimination just because of these 20 marks, but infact this must be considered as a reward for memorising the holy book.Recommend

  • Saheem
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:47PM

    Pakistan is an Islamic Country and it is the duty of its state to encourage Hifz e Quran. the one who spend two three years in Madrassa usually have to put effort more than his fellow students in the same class so he may not lag behind in the exam due to the face that he has been out of school for 2/3 years. To subsidize these Hafiz e Quaran the universities often give 20 extra marks in the admission test which is , to my guess, not much and make a slight percentage when compared with the total marks.

    Now this brother has not gotten the admission in the university and he is trying to color his story as religious segregation.

    Had he memorized the Holy Bible by heart and then claimed such thing, it would have made a little sense.


  • Ahmed HM
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:48PM

    Sigh …
    I don’t know what to say for this article. My liberal minded ‘all the history we were taught was wrong’ kinda friend shared this article on FB.
    I am not a Hafiz-e-Quran myself, and there are many which are not. How many Hafiz-e-Qurans have resulted in people missing their chances of getting an admission into institutions in the past decade? Maybe, this guy should have studied more. Why is this policy being blamed with reference to this guy?


  • Goraya Sb
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:49PM

    Well, majority of Pakistani population is muslim. And majority is authority!!!!!!!!!!! Plus Pakistan is an Islamic Republic not a secular state.


  • AaK
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:52PM

    “I am as much a Pakistani as any Muslim, we are all equal citizens and the government will realize this,”
    My sincere wishes is with you Haroon, and hope that you will feel the taste of equality sometimes, no worry if you were restrained today. I have never use my certificate of memorizing of holy book, Quran, but appreciate government efforts of acknowledgment of one’s distinction. I wish that you get the same feeling that I have.
    Wish you best of luck!!!


  • Sarah
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:55PM

    @Uzair J: Mammoth task or not. Memorizing a religious text should have no implications for admission in a medical school. The sawab you’re supposed to get or the jump in iq should be rewarding enough but to over step merit this way is simply ridiculous.


  • Mustajab
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:57PM

    I think instead of commenting over the extra marks as a reward that Hafiz-e-Quran is getting …. we can suggest to increase the Quota of minorities….as we all know in Islam that we can envy a person who have memorized Quran… and other then that also Muslim students donot get admission due to these extra marks…. but we never heard anything from them…. I think when we can increase quota as per province and overseas students we can also increase quota of Minorities also…. Kepping the extra marks for Hafiz-e-Quran there…..
    Peace :)


  • qasim
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:57PM

    there is a dedicated non muslim quota but this article has been written with bad sense.
    you must have mentioned that this guy doesn’t full-fill the non muslim merit quota as well.

    simialry there are quotas for each province. in each province the quota is lower for other provinces, so you cann’t justify that merit has been killed.

    if seats are only on merit, then most of them time students of punjab will overtake other provinces because there is not much development espically in balochistan and NWFP.Recommend

  • AhmedMaqsood
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Uzair J – Memorizing the Quran has no relevance to medicine, so there is no logic in awarding extra marks to Hafiz-e-Quran. The only situation where awarding such marks would make sense would be for degrees in Islamic Studies.


  • Muhammad khan
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:58PM

    the title of the topic is incorrect i.e Educational bias: Memorise the Quran for twenty extra marks, because people don’t memorize Quran for twenty extra marks. once memorized they got extra marks because they have extra knowledge than others.


    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:04PM

    Religion is education, we actually have drawn a fine line between them, so here we stand today ;)


  • Mj
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:08PM

    @Uzair J:
    An what purpose does memorizing a book and awarding points for it serve? Does it make you a better person, or more intelligent? Does it make you a better student? If the reward is from god then it should suffice; no need to put those who have not memorized a book at an unfair disadvantage in this world.


  • Sana
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:10PM

    @Uzair J:
    But the task was for him, undertaken by his own free will and undertaken for sure to make God happy and gain rewards in after-life? Why hurt others? Why hurt others in this life? It is totally for the will of God, let Him give you the rewards. Why ask 20 marks as a reward here? If you are doing something to please God, do it and leave it to Him. Why harm the rest of the humanity in doing so?


  • Red
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:20PM

    Uzair, would you agree it is just as mammoth a task to memorize the Bible, also a Holy Book? Being Muslim means we should ride all over minority rights?


  • rokhanghalib
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:25PM

    This is not right. It means person who is not Muslim cant become a doctor. Its unfair. everyone should be judged on their knowledge not on religious education. it means the person who does not belong to Islam has no right to become a doctor. we have seen the performance of Pakistani doctors and we are not satisfied. they kill hundreds of make medicines. they supply the fake medicines to people, they sell it to people. everyone should be given equal right. this way Pakistan will lose millions of brilliant students of medical. to memorize quran should not be made compulsory. everyone should be given equal right…


  • Wowem
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:32PM

    Any Muslim who believes in the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saww) cannot possibly help feeling ashamed and deeply distressed at this flagrant violation of everything the great book and the Prophet (saww) stood for. While we rot in our distorted and ignorant view of Islam, Haroon , its best for you to go find some western country where they actually practice what the Koran and Prophet preached albeit under different names.


  • Random
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:36PM

    Most muslims are at a disadvantage too you know. Not every can or does memorize the Quran along with the rest of the curriculum. This article is one sided and if there is an agenda that needs to be spread (secularism seems to be the theme) then this type of journalism will not further the cause and this type of behavior will make us irresponsible and worse then the people you fear the most.


  • Random
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:42PM

    @Uzair J: You know whats the saddest about all of this? these people think they are right in regards to how Pakistan should be. Just because someone is in the minority, the real story needs to be twisted in the their favor. Its ironic because this article speaks of bias yet it is bias it self.Recommend

  • Faisal Irshad
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:52PM

    @Uzair J:
    You really think a quota for minorities (like rote learning or hifz of the bible) would be approved in this religiously intolerant environment? This rote learning is not a task to be proud of. The poor soul who had been having good marks throughout his academic carrer should have been “promoted” to the admission without any religious bias.


  • intalectual
    Feb 8, 2012 - 1:53PM

    live and let live .i am a muslim and i am in first year of mbbs .i didn’t get any extra marks should know that this is islamic republic of pakistan and there are always some facilities given to majority of that country.this happens in every country and if you really need those 20 marks so badly so try and learn the quran.

    please stop crying over the spilt milk,when sometimes we dont get the things we want we start to blame others.


  • Amjad
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:03PM

    oh please people now for the love of God lets not fall into this.. holy Quran and 20 marks? Do you guys seriously think it should NOT happen? we are alhumdulilah muslims and if someone memorized the holy quran and still appearing in professional exams it shows how good the person is. being a Hafiz takes a lot of guts and time. lets not take this in negative way.. these 20 marks should be there. lets not make issue of it BUT lets talk about a way where we can accomodate non mulims as well i.e. a law which protects the non muslims as well. something that awards them these 20 marks or so as well. BUT lets not take away these 20 marks from a Hafiz. the poor hafiz is not a culprit. he deserves it. but lets make some amendment and accommodate the non mulims. this should be the way to go forward. lets stop this discrimination. and Mr. Author you should have used this approach as well .. you have gone on with a WRONG approach. Recommend

  • Khurram Siddiqi
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:05PM

    This kind of segregation is sick


  • Mir
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:12PM

    Utterly absurd. Hope Haroon and human beings get justice and a step towards progress. I am a Hafiz and I feel that this is not the way to fight for our religion. Always lead by example. If we do this in our lands than we can not expect any better from others in their lands. My faith should not be under threat from anything or from what anyone says. Everyone should be given equal treatment. I hope those of you living in societies that do not adhere to Muslim laws should understand that. Otherwise your faith is weak and you are just fueling it by being hypocrites.


  • Pakistani
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:22PM

    Memorising the Quran is a huge task that takes a lot of hard work.

    But that doesn’t mean those who have memorised it should have an advantage in their educational field. Although memorising the Quran does show that you are a hardworking person, admission in universities should always be based on the educational record of the student, not according to ANY other achievements, and that includes religion.

    P.S. Those who memorise the Quran are rewarded by Allah Himself during and after their lives.


  • IndiKid
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:26PM

    @Uzair J: Whats the need of memorising Quran for getting medical education? Even if its extremely tough why should a student who has memorized it be given benefit by the state? If I like painting/ guitar and have learned it through extreme hard work why should I get the benefit of it in medical education? Secondly, this student here was not given the benefit of Bible studies, maybe he has put HARDER effort than hafiz-e-Quran so he should perhaps get +30?


  • Feb 8, 2012 - 2:33PM

    Being hafiza e Quran myself, I would wish the Haroon to attain his own quota than calling it educational bias. Before memorizing holy Quran, we or many of us learn reading Arabic language, then learning Arabic language itself. Pakistan is an Islamic republic, which awards hafiza e Quran the 20 marks for the acomplishment of memorization of holy Quran, it does not discriminate any other religion or religious students. Walk for your quota, than criticizing for no reason. Understand the hard work.


  • KL
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:41PM

    If you want to memorise BIBLE, please get the ORIGINAL / TRUE Testament first. Secondly the students Memorising the HOLY QURAN have to spend usually few years on the same in additional to the normal studies.
    Please be Non Biased.


  • Christian
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:42PM

    This is pathetic and rubbish, This shows how much respect and honor Government of Punjab has for minorities.
    Zaid sb,
    Do you have anything to say about this issue or you react like an ostrich.


  • Stewie Griffin
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:44PM

    Time for affirmative action and secularism in Pakistan.

    It’s ridiculous that you get 20 more points just for memorizing the Qu`ran.


  • Mj
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:52PM

    @Goraya Sb:
    What you are describing in not a democracy but mob rule. Our neighbor, India, is majority Hindu. What if the majority decided that Hindu students get bonus marks for remembering certain passages of their holy book. Would it then not be unfair to Muslims, Christians, and other groups?


  • minority
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:55PM

    This land of pure only deals with Majority rights.And please work hard next time. If you being a christian believe in God, then listen when a door is closed for you, God opens another door for you. Approaching courts who busy dealing with politicians and satisfying personal vandetta’s was and remain a forlorn attempt. Have faith on God.InshAllah you’ll get a better profession and Job. Wish you all the best


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:13PM

    @Uzair J:
    What ever happened to the “there is no compulsion in religion” canard?


  • Sarah
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:14PM

    @Goraya Sb: and then therefore any one who is not a muslim in this country should dash all hopes of being treated on meritorious basis ?Recommend

  • Feb 8, 2012 - 3:17PM

    The writer ignored why these extra marks are given bt i personally think they should not be given, there should be a complete merit without any religious or regional bias


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:22PM

    The same happens in engineering universities also, and it has been in place since the time of Zia-ul-Haq,

    Zia’s destructive legacies lives on.


  • what?
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:27PM

    well if this is the way of religion of peace and its followers, then they will oppose every scientific researches, freethinking, discoveries and inventions soon, because of the violation of their readymade believes.


  • Anthony Permal
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:30PM

    Going by the logic of everyone here saying ‘it is the Holy Book and this is a Muslim country’, then why not give them jobs as well? Hifz e Quran jo hai. In fact, why are we voting for people who are not hifz e quran but running the country? Or other political parties? Are Altaf Hussain, Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan all Hifz e Quran?

    No? Recommend

  • Caustic Agnostic
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:42PM

    Why is this country hell bent on embracing secularism? Why is Islam being targeted in the farce of such articles or Maya Khan’s acts?


  • BlackJack
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:49PM

    Your solution should be acceptable – after all we admit people under quotas like sports, NCC etc which have no impact on knowledge required to perform well in the selected education stream – this is just yet another extra-curricular achievement that is rewarded. However, what is the yardstick that you would use to compare vs memorizing the Quran in other religions – does it have to be mugging up some other holy book? And who would take this call and under what authority. Suppose someone has memorized Shakespeare (certainly implies high proficiency and understanding of high-quality works of literature) – would that do? The odds are stacked against minorities, and you people rack your brains to think of reasons why it shoudl be so. At the same time, you go ballistic when France and Netherlands decide to ban the burkha and complain of being discriminated against. To my friends who complain that 20 marks is nothing, let us assume that the total marks across papers is even 1000, then these 20 marks create a 2% impact – whereas poor Haroon seems to have lost out by 0.1% – which is 1 out of 1000. I think it is unfair, but then so is life in Pakistan.


  • athar mahmood
    Feb 8, 2012 - 3:58PM

    system is have to fight for your cause by yourself.wish you best of luck.


  • Zeeshan
    Feb 8, 2012 - 4:01PM

    Assalam ua laikum to all…

    It is an exception to Muslims just like Christians get an exemption to drink wine,
    Muslim are to take out 2.5% zakat, Chrisitans dont
    Muslims should offer prayers 5 times a day and only a sunday’s visit is enough for a christian

    on a wider exposure;

    a son of a Military personal gets a waver of upto 75% on their institutional fees
    A citizen does not..

    likely is in this case …

    there are discrimination on every scale … if appropriate justice plan is not proposed

    No minority law is violated … Unless, there should be introduced a new law, allowing some extra marks for those who learn Bible WORD TO WORD by heart and then the claimed argument might be worthy enough a talk.

    Above all, no minority’s right can be secured unless there is a proper khilafat system imposed. In which, proper and appropriate justice is given to all as it was given in the Daura-e-Khilafat.


  • Feb 8, 2012 - 4:01PM

    @Amjad: ‘if someone memorized the holy quran and still appearing in professional exams it shows how good the person is.’

    Bro. by the same logic, set 1 point for saying prayers, 2 points for observing fast and 50 points for doing a hajj. If you want to exploit it being a muslim in a muslim country.. exploit it to the core.


  • Onlooker
    Feb 8, 2012 - 4:01PM

    Any state which views its children through the prism of religion is actually digging up its own grave.


  • Feb 8, 2012 - 4:31PM

    Extra marks for memorizing Holy Quran may be allowed only if one is seeking admission in a madarssah for the course of Aalim or wants to become a mufti. Equally important is to understand the meaning of what has been memorized. Many Huffaz do not understand the meaning of various verses of Quran memorized by them..


  • Feb 8, 2012 - 4:33PM

    It’s the same for everyone irrespective of religion. Even I haven’t memorized the Quran so I’m equal footings with a non-muslim in this respect. I think being the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN, it is a briliant stimulant for young kids to memorize the Quran. They take 2, 3 years out of their academic life to do so and it is only just that they should be compensated for it.


  • Mard e Momin
    Feb 8, 2012 - 4:53PM

    well i think awarding extra marks for Hifz e Quran is a very excellent initiative by the Punjab govt and other provinces should also emulate Punjab govt.
    Moreover should desist from criticizing such a good policy as this might hurt the religious sentiments of the muslims.Recommend

  • Feb 8, 2012 - 5:34PM

    Mr. Shuja-ur-Rehman’s statement is an embarrassment for this nation, and a perfect portrayal of the minorities’ worst fear: that no matter how much injustice we have to suffer, it doesn’t matter to the government since we’re just a “nominal amount of people”.


  • MAD
    Feb 8, 2012 - 5:38PM

    Maybe the solution lies in a special quota for minorities. I know its more seperation rather than integration but since whoever tries to change the law is likely to end up facing blasphemeny charges or being shot dead perhaps for now this is the way to go. I dont agree with it but yes I dont see the 20 marks rule changing in the near future due to lack of courage, public support and political will. unfortunate but true.


  • Anthony Permal
    Feb 8, 2012 - 5:52PM


    I seriously hope you misspelt your nickname here intentionally, else the irony is astounding.


  • asad
    Feb 8, 2012 - 5:54PM

    A person who spend good 5 years to memorize quran should be given more marks .. 20 marks into overall marks is just peanuts .. it hardly make 2% difference in over all percentage .. if this guy was hafiz of bible then he should be given 20 marks but having some knowledge and certificate of bible is not enough .. even a person who have some certificates of quran like someone can read quran (Nazra) dont get any marks though it take him 1 year to learn reading arabic ..Recommend

  • Rabia
    Feb 8, 2012 - 6:10PM

    I’m all for religion but when it is used this way (with bias) it is a crime. Good luck with your endeavors Haroon. I hope you won’t allow this foolishness to colour your view of Islam. That it will colour your view of Muslims is inevitable.Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed
    Feb 8, 2012 - 6:12PM

    I have a lot of respect for the work that a Hafiz e Quran has to put in. To single out this accomplishment for “extra points” is unfair when the admission is to an unrelated field. It is unfair to all non Hafiz and particularly so to minority religions. “Extra points” are almost always unfair, doctors’s sons used to get extra points, then Medical Professor’s children and who knows how many institutionalized nepotistic self interest groups may have benefited from biased criteria to the detriment of the majority. This is a question of fundamental rights and fit for a Supreme Court suo moto action but I highly doubt that the judges will court justice at the expense of popularity.


  • Zeffos
    Feb 8, 2012 - 6:20PM

    Zia and his mad principles live on. Whats more disgusting is the shallowness of so called Pakistani Muslims here who think Haroon is using religion as a ”tool”. Firstly, look who’s talking? Didn’t we Pakistani’s perfected this art of using religion as a tool and juggling everything around it? From wars to mad ideologies? Suicide bombs, mad mullahs anyone? Haroon has a legitimate cause, minorities do suffer educational bias in Pakistan. Minorities are forced to study Islamiyat in schools, what kind of educational system is it? A Muslim forced to study Bible is a problem, But a Christian forced to study Islamiyat is not? No wonder we have a moral decline in Pakistan. Recommend

  • abbas
    Feb 8, 2012 - 6:35PM

    I am amazed the way Media provides angles to different stories (which hardly serves any purpose). Well if NCC (army basic training) can get 20 additional marks in intermediate exams why not marks for memorizing Quran. Yes consideration should be made for Bible and other religious books but I am not sure if thr is normal practice to memorise Bible. Also for information of author as muslims we believe in Bible as much as a Christian believes in it so no need to give an impression of muslim book and christian book.


  • sandeep limayes
    Feb 8, 2012 - 6:44PM

    now i got it why Pakistan is legging behind India. in India there are competitive exams in which expertise in concerned subjects are tested. there is no extra marks for knowledge of Hindu religious scripture. even no religious teaching is provided to students in schools. only small book of moral education is there till class 8th and it includes good moral teachings of every religion.
    so in India a student has to concentrate on his studies only and may become good expert engineer or doctor. but in Pakistan a students has to learn Quran to become doctor or engineer. there is no compulsion in religion and you are compelling young minds to divert there attention from getting quality to education to age old scripture which he may learn in letter life if wishes so .Recommend

  • Ihsan ur Rehman
    Feb 8, 2012 - 6:53PM

    I feel really sad and ashamed after going through all above comments! Many of them might be well educated but lacking the knowledge????
    Does 20 extra marks is any exploitation???
    Does Quran memorising have an impact on the personality???

    The answer is one, Quran is itself a knowledge and specially in the medical science there are lot of learning from this book, infact Keith Moore the embriologist himself wrote that the stages of embriology are better explained in Quran which are being revealed today!!!

    So these extra marks are awarded for some one extra knowledge, there is no voilation of any human right! If some one is genius he must be given reward what he has achieved……

    Totally support these extra 20 marks! the writing of this article is itself a discrimination!Recommend

  • sheetal
    Feb 8, 2012 - 7:15PM

    hi guys, i m an Indian Christian and in forth semester in mechanical engineering. i have passed PET exam (an entrance test). in my school life and now i have not forced to study any religious scripture of any religion. by the way we never bother about religion in our campus life. we concentrate on our subjects only. so we are producing quality Engineers and doctor. thank god i was not born in Pakistan else i have to learn Qur’an against my wish and here no one compel us to learn Bible. though i read it every morning but its my wish no one is compelling me to do it.


  • Factsnotfairies
    Feb 8, 2012 - 7:30PM

    Out of curiosity, does any Muslim here know what extensive Bible study and Sunday schooling entails? It is at least as much work as memorising the Quran. Incidentally, I couldn’t care less if my surgeon was a Hafiz-e-Quran or not, what I do care about is whether he has been to medical school. Last I checked being a Hafiz-e-Quran means just that; that you memorised the Quran. It has absolutely no bearing on one’s ability to do their job and if a doctor ever said to me “Don’t worry I’m a Hafiz-e-Quran” I’d be marching out of that office looking for a doctor who is a DOCTOR and doesn’t think memorising a religious texts makes him a better doctor (because it doesn’t) and I’d be wary of any medical school that does.


  • antony
    Feb 8, 2012 - 8:03PM

    @Anthony, Now you realize what is the difference to be in India and Pakistan being a Christian . IF you want to become Mullah and if there is any entrance test with 20 marks bonus for memorising quran then its a valid feature.However for medical entrance test you are awarded 20 marks bonus for quran is plain misfit . I would suggest you can give quota to economically backward muslims rather than this option.


  • leila rage
    Feb 8, 2012 - 9:11PM

    Disappointing and sickening as usual. I have now realised that there is no point in hoping for something good to happen in Pakistan. Only injustic prevails here.


  • TrueMuslim
    Feb 8, 2012 - 9:56PM

    So much complaining when Islam gives everyone equal opportunity in all sphere. Doesn’t everyone benefit from learning the Quran? Isn’t learning the Quran open to everyone? This is only Islamophobia.Recommend

    Feb 8, 2012 - 10:36PM

    Ummm…. so will a doctor to be required to learn the Holy Qura’an to heal people with verses? Or will an Engineer be required to solve complex diagrams and designs thru the BOOK? Or will a Scientist use the Qura’an in creating nuclear war heads or cutting edge technology?
    Wake up Pakistan! Stop wearing Religion on your sleeve!


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 1:29AM

    All those who don’t want a Hafiz e Quran to take extra 20Marks, Listen.
    First of all , Every Pakistani isn’t a Hafiz e Quran so even if a Muslim is going to fail due to 3 marks, He will not be given any compensation. The Rule is only for Hafiz e Quran and round about 0.001% Muslims in Pakistan are Hafiz e Quran. Pakistan is an Islamic State and the rule isn’t a bias attitude at all.


  • Saima
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:40AM

    ummm….actually how is it any different from a sports scholarship to an Ivy league university? Or quota seats in public university? Atleast in this case knowledge is acquired and not by birth….the concept was to promote the learning of Quran and give some incentive to those who have sacrificed a few years of their regular education to pursue this. However, I m assuming that there is a quota allotted in medical colleges too for these individuals like engineering public universities too. However the REMAINING several thousands of seats are on MERIT, there is no reason why one cannot compete for those… It is unfortunate that we do not recognize the biblical teachings at the same level but that is a matter of policy…and policies can be amended :)


  • Pakistani First
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:43AM

    If a person becomes a Hafiz-e-Quran he/she would be rewarded by Allah in this life and the next. We mere mortals are not in a position to reward anyone for an act done to please Allah Almighty. In my humble opinion we should do away with the 20 marks for the Hafiz-e-Quran, since a person who decides to be a Hafiz does it from his/her own free will and it should not put other students(Muslims or minorities) at a disadvantage because of it.


  • Abhishek
    Feb 9, 2012 - 7:04AM

    isn’t is amazing that religions have survived into 21st century?
    and people are fighting how to be more religious?
    People are more stupid then they think.
    On second thought a race as stupid as humans deserves to be crushed by this stupidity called religion.


  • HeeHaa
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:10AM

    They have medical schools in Pakistan ???


  • Shyam
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:11AM

    Knowledge of Quran is necessary for getting into Medical school. If your doctor cannot cure you then atleast he can pray for your recovery


  • Red
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:04PM

    I love it how sooo many comments are saying that learning the Quran is open to minorities too. How would you, holier-than-thou Muslims, like it if the situation were reversed and somebody kept telling you you should just memorize some other’s religion’s holy book?Recommend

  • Aurangzeb
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:10PM

    Hafiz-e-Quran has their own quotas in educational institutes, just like minorities, tribal areas and others have their quotas. The quota seats does not effect other quotas and open merit seats. no way hafiz-e-Quran quota could have effected Haroon’s seat, even if he stood on open merit.


  • Mustajab
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:40PM

    @sheetal, @anthony,@BRUISED INDIAN,@Abhishek:

    Hi… It is good to hear that people across the border are also reading the tribune post…. you guys are suggesting the country that is killing kashmiri’s like butchers and those who were responsible for Gujrat massacre are giving u good educational system at the cost of unsecured life??? I would suggest not to defend a land where there is no respect of minorities life….. at least in Pakistan they are facing social issue not threat to their life’s…..

    @Everyone who are with the writer:

    I would ask you guys one question that you say that all this is narrow mindedness and it is injustice for us …. then can anyone tell me what is happening in France then are they not implementing their policies over hijab???? and when we go to European universities we obey all their polices even if it suit us or not…. but when it come to Pakistan…. We always need TO CHANGE…..????

    Peace :)


  • Sadia
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:50PM

    @Uzair J:
    memorizing the quran has nothing to do with gaining worldly scientific knowledge. It should NOT be given any weightage in matters concerning scientific knowledge. I cannot understand how a hafiz-e-quran (read rote learner) can be a better doctor/ engineer/professional than one who does not learn by rote, but by understanding and questioning. this is a horrible, bigoted country!


  • Sadia
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:08PM

    this is not islamophobia. on the other hand, encouraging people to memorize (and not necessarily understand) the Quran for a material advantage goes entirely against the spirit of religion.


  • Sadia
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:12PM

    @Uzair J:
    so, this means that the Quran should be memorized (not understood) not for the love of God or religion, but simply for gaining 20 pathetic marks. what a mockery of religion we have made!


  • Indian
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:33PM

    I am an Indian and I never read those old holy scriptures.I can be a good human being without even reading those great fictions.

    I have some good friends and I take care of my parents.


  • Indian
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:47PM

    The saddest part is that Mr. Haroon thinks he will get justice…poor kid.


  • Goraya Sb
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:13PM

    @Sarah: No…….Not at All ! ! !. If any non-muslim memorises the Holy Quran to avail these 20 marks he can claim these marks.Memorising Quran does not mean being muslim. Secondly yes being an silamic state we do reserve our right to set a criteria at our own keeping the majority in consideration. YES WE DO SAY “NO NON-MUSLIM CAN BE HEAD OF ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN.”


  • Sarah
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:57PM

    @Goraya Sb: Well then congratulations to you and every muslim touting this brand of elitism out there, we are all witnesses to where this attitude has gotten pakistan and why every country is just dying to be where we are. Congratulations indeed


  • Goraya Sb
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:50PM

    @Sarah: You are welcome if really want a real debate over this topic. WaitingRecommend

  • Anthony Permal
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:40PM


    Dear Mustajab, why in the whole world did you assume I am Indian? I want you to answer this question.


  • Pradeep
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:46PM

    Here is a simple solution. Reduce 20 marks for those Muslims who DONOT memorize the Koran. How about that. In such cases, the Muslims have to show that they are superior to others.


  • narayana murthy
    Feb 9, 2012 - 7:46PM

    @Mustajab who writes “Hi… It is good to hear that people across the border are also reading the tribune post…. you guys are suggesting the country that is killing kashmiri’s like butchers and those who were responsible for Gujrat massacre are giving u good educational system at the cost of unsecured life???”

    Nobody is killing Kasmiris like butchers. That’s just a propaganda spread by the likes of Hafees Saeed.

    By the way, people responsible for Gujrat riots were a bunch of MUSLIMS who burned down a train of Hindus.


  • Bilal Akhtar
    Feb 9, 2012 - 7:55PM

    OMG ppl come on. This is the stooooopidest and lamest arguement i’ve ever heard. Matalb now that Pakistan was found on Islamic idealogy tou we should get 20 marks for offering prayers and fasting as well, shouldnt we?


  • sheetal
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:25PM

    if in India too, 20 marks would be allotted to memorize ‘Geeta’ then imagine what kind of reaction would be there from my Pakistani friends. they would have said India is imposing hindutva on minorities


  • Anonymous
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:34PM

    Another example of how we exploit Islam.Recommend

  • Owais Shah
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:06PM

    I have memorized the Holy Quran but I didn’t get the extra 20 marks for admission in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa medical colleges because I didn’t recite the verses which the Hafiz Quran Committee asked me to recite. It is a very difficult test and the persons in committee didn’t ask one to recite a specif surah instead they will start to recite a verse and then you have to carry on the rest of verse and going on. If Haroon wants it then he should have memorized the Bible verse by verse and i didn’t think that he can recite each and every verse of the bible. I will welcome the govt. if they give the same 20 marks to Christians who have memorized the whole Bible. But the standard of the test should remain same for both persons who have memorized Quran & Bible.


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 11:43PM

    I generally do not take part in debate here, but since there are over a 100 comments on this piece, I thought to bring to the readers’ notice why I covered this story.
    We have to understand the Pakistani community is majorly dominated by the Muslims and therefore non-Muslims are a minority and I think everyone here will agree with this statement. Now we need to understand this case from a perspective of person belonging to a religious minority. For him or her, there is no compulsion in Islam to embrace it or read the Holy Book. Islam is a religion by choice, not by force.
    This Christian boy, Haroon, should not be forced to do anything he doesnt want to. If you read above, he didnt criticize the policy in terms of changing it. He just asked for an equivalent policy (if nothing else), which he deserves, since coming from a marginalized background, he has done a lot more despite his living standards. But he lost on a very minute marks difference because there were others (Muslims) who were beneficiaries of this policy, for which he cannot even take part. Its like asking someone to compete in a race that does not even have the same starting point for everyone.
    Also, I personally feel that if someone memorizes the Quran, he should not be tested for his memory on it but rather his understanding. The first word that was sent by Allah in Quran was ‘Iqra’ – which means READ, hence signifying the constant need for reading the Holy Book. Quran should be used as a reference book, but if someone doesnt want to, its his/her relation with Allah which his his/her personal faith. ‘Collectivism’ in Islam focuses on being good to fellow human beings, while the practice is a personal act.

    Taha Siddiqui
    Twitter: @TahaSSiddiqui


    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:44AM

    @Mustajab: Firstly the number of recommendations which amount to ZERO towards your comments shows the quality of your mind!
    Secondly – I really hate this to be become a darn Youtube or facebook style verbatim argument; but for the sake of it, oh nubile mind – Gujarat happened due to a Fanatical Muslim Mob setting fire to a train compartment.
    Thirdly – Pakistans track record of its ‘welfare’ of its Minorities isnt well hidden I must say.
    Fourthly – Do the math on your own of the number of Muslims in India and the same trend for Hindus in Pakistan pst ’47.

    Other Pakistanis – please dont take me to be a hater… showing the mirror is one and being a hawk is another dimension of character altogether. Peace and Salaams to all.


  • TrueMuslim
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:38AM

    Why my post not published fully explaining there is no discrimination? Everyone benefits equally from memorizing the Holy Quran which is Allah Himself speaking to all humanity. Did Allah send message to Muslims only? Where is discrimination?? Everyone is free to benefit equally from Islam!! Islam haters open your eyes.


  • The Only Rationlist Left
    Feb 10, 2012 - 7:14AM

    Ooh wait, if the Christian can memorize more than 5000 different Greek versions of his historical scripture, ripe with inter-textual discrepancies, then I am sure we would consider it a feat enough and donate him some marks to get admission into a “med sakool.”


  • Adeel Ahmed
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:31AM

    If this 20 marks given to all Muslims but not Christian, then it is discrimination. 20 marks is just to a very very small amount of people who Hifz Quran. If any Christian Hifz this book, he will also be granted similar marks unconcern his religion. So where is discrimination.

    Most of the Muslims do not get this 20 marks as this christian, so we are equal in this regard.


  • Ali Kahn
    Feb 10, 2012 - 9:35AM

    Here are the cold facts:

    The Muslim mind and the non-Muslim mind cannot co-exist on the same planet. You may or may not accept this, but you cannot change reality, no matter how loudly you argue.


  • Ayesha
    Feb 10, 2012 - 9:58AM

    It took 4-5 years approximately to memorize a Quran-e-Pak and during that time the hafiz stays away from regular studies…and one can imagine that after comleting the process of hifaz-e-Quraan they have to put much extra effort to be in the same pace in regular studies where all other are already learnt so much. So giving them extra 20 marks is very much a justifcation with hafiz e quraan. but, Govt should make policy for non muslims to according to their religious criteria.Recommend

  • southasiaobserver
    Feb 10, 2012 - 10:10AM

    Secular education in the islamic world is all but dead. How shameful for all of us.

    Look at India’s IITs and IIMs, not to mention Indian School of Business, etc. These have grown to be some of the world’s most rigorous schools since Independence.

    Meanwhile, what have we in Pakistan and Bangladesh accomplished in this way? Virtually nothing. It’s a damning indictment of our whole culture.


  • Indian
    Feb 10, 2012 - 11:41AM

    I don’t understand why some people find it’s discriminatory.
    I think theocratic constitution and it’s country should not see it as a discrimination.
    Understanding that Pakistan is Islamic Republic, giving extra marks for memorizing Quran is justifiable.
    If some people of Pakistan have problem with this, they should not have it. They should understand that it’s not secular country.
    Whether it should be secular or theocratic, can be a problem.


  • Swede
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:44PM

    Medicine a scientific field and not based on superstition!
    Islam on the other hand…


  • Syed Zohaib Asad
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:13PM

    Buddy trust me you’ll end up doing something much better. Hard work is never left unrewarded


  • Irfan Sharif
    Feb 12, 2012 - 8:26PM

    I am Muslim…. and Had I been Hafiz-e-Quran, I would have got admission in NED. I failed to the rolls by just 10 marks, and I couldnt even complained this bias because of my religion. I think Haroon atleast had a plausible right to go to the courts, and we cannot change this policy without cross religious efforts….. Muslims, Christians, and all other sectors must come forward to have a system where everyone can enjoy equal rights. On the other hand I still feels, that a child who memorize Quran in his early childhood, lost his four to five years of precious school life in maddaras, and when they join school they remain lapsed in terms of basic concepts, and so in the larger picture 20 marks subsidy also seem plausible. We also need to have policies where the Hafiz earns all the regular education in his hifz tenure so that he never need any subsidy and play his role as a rational and healthy citizen

    Good Luck Haroon!Recommend

  • Yiv
    Feb 13, 2012 - 4:25AM

    This shows that Muslims are discriminating against Non-Muslims even in the realm of education.


  • non-conformist
    Feb 15, 2012 - 5:30AM

    The government has recently introduced 5% quota for minorities in all government jobs. Is it also not discrimination against otherwise deserving Muslims?Recommend

  • Osama Siddique
    Feb 16, 2012 - 2:04AM

    Excellent article. Great that this issue is raised. What does being Hafiz have to do with admission to a medical college? The merit of that pious task lies in itself and in the next world? Isn’t it rather materialistic and hypocritical to try and associate a professional advantage to something that is supposed to be connected to a purer life here and reward in the next world? And how pathetic of some people here to not recognize its discriminatory impact on Non-Muslims? For a Muslim it is a choice to become a Hafiz or not – for someone from another faith the choice is to focus on their holy books. Is this the twisted way to force them to change their faith? Is this Islam and their notion of a Muslim state? How shameful and against the magnanimous spirit of Islam. How insulting also to those who become Hafiz for all the right reasons.


  • Saleem
    Feb 18, 2012 - 7:49PM

    All I can comment is that this guy Haroon should have studied a bit more. This article shows as if only a Hafia e Quran can get admission in a medical college. Let me suggest that all of you go and do a little survey and find out HOW MANY DOCTORS IN PAKISTAN ARE HAFIZ E QURAN? I am a doctor and I did MBBS from King Edward Medical University (In those days a college). And I got admission on merit and not by 20 marks as I am not a hafiz e Quran.. However I got 20 marks because I attended NCC (army training for students). But I could have gotten admission even without those 20 marks. And I had 3 Christian class fellows in medical college. All 3 of them got 20 extra marks for NCC. They all became doctors and there was no discrimination anywhere. So, I would like to suggest Mr Haroon to have a realistic opinion about his capabilities. if he missed admission by 0.1% marks, he will see many many muslims missing admission in medical college due to 0.1% marks because they were also not hafiz e Quran. So why does he considers himself as a special disadvantage. One thing more. Memorizing Quran is not a simple thing. If a student does not memorize Quran and spends the same amount of time is studies, he can get much more marks than these 20 marks (which are causing so much pain to Mr Haroon)


  • Saleem
    Feb 18, 2012 - 8:24PM

    Please note that WHILE ALL HUFFAAZ E QURAN ARE MUSLIMS…… NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE HUFFAAZ E QURAN. Huffaaz e Quran are a minority among Muslims and further, a very few of them are the ones who are able to get admission in a medical college on the bases of these 20 marks. Even most of the Islamic religious people are not hafiz e Quran. I am a muslim and I am a doctor and I do not recall a single person in my batch who got admission on the bases of these 20 marks. Of course people do get admission of the bases of these 20 marks but they are very very few…. In addition, no child in the families around is memorising Quran to get these advantageous 20 marks to get admission in a medical college. All are studying to get good scores and no one of them raises this issue if they fail to get admission in medical college due to shortage of 0.1% score.
    And please, stop cursing Pakistan. Just see America. Where holy books of other religions are publicly burned and disgraced and the law does not intervene. In Pakistan, name a single event where a Muslims has done so to holy book of any other religion.
    Giving 2o marks to a Hafiz e Quran is a gesture of showing love to our own religion and I guess it is a lesser crime to show love to one’s own religion than showing hatred to someone else’s !


  • Imran Ahmed
    Feb 18, 2012 - 10:38PM

    @Saleem, none of the arguments that you have advanced serve to refute the fact that these 20 marks are discriminatory on the basis of religion and hence unfair to non muslims. No one has said that being discriminatory is a great crime. It is however unjust. The irony that we muslims do not get is that the Quran commands us to be just and yet we implead it in exercising all sorts of injustices. These injustices may not be crimes but I am sure they are sins.


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